A bank robbery on Thursday that started with a robber shooting flames from a bottle of liquid ended in a rain-swollen Salinas creek as police captured a suspect who led them on a wild, high-speed chase.
The drama started about 2:45 p.m. at a Bank of America branch in the Northridge Mall.
A man entered the bank armed with a pressurized bottle containing a flammable liquid, police Cmdr. Sheldon Bryan said.
"He lit the liquid and started throwing fire around," Bryan said.
Several customers were inside the bank, but it wasn't immediately clear if the man got away with money.
The 49-year-old robber, whose name wasn't immediately available, was believed to be connected to two other robberies at a Smart and Final store on Saturday and an Arco gas station, Bryan said.
In the Saturday robbery, a man sprayed two bursts of flame at a cashier when his demands for money were rebuffed.
In Thursday's caper, several people chased the robber out of the bank, across North Main Street and saw him get into a blue Ford Ranger.
Police units spotted the pickup and a high-speed chase started along East Boronda Road, Natividad Road and Constitution Boulevard.
At times, the robber drove across medians and hurtled into opposing traffic. But traffic was light on the streets at the time, police radio traffic said.
The road chase ended near Virginia Rocca Barton school, and police started running after the robber.
"He jumped into a ditch full of water and
It took awhile before officers subdued the robber. They called for a medical stretcher to tie him down so they could get him up the slippery, muddy creekside.
"He was still causing problems," Bryan said.
There were no reports of injuries.